Electronic Documents: Secure, Green, and Convenient

April 23, 2015 Marlo Hertling

Electronic Documents - Secure, Green and Convenient

Last week I read an article in the Financial Post that discussed the importance of document tracking by HR. The writer challenged that HR has lost sight of the importance of this task – and I thought “Wow, that has not been our experience with Canadian HR professionals.” So I’ve decided to share what we are seeing as a vendor who provides people management solutions to HR professionals.

When we sit down with HR teams one of the first questions they often ask is “How can you help us manage all of the paper we deal with?” They haven’t lost sight of how critical document tracking is – and they often provide us with a list of paper files they maintain diligently that includes documents like these:

  • Job applications
  • Non-Disclosure or Confidentiality Agreements
  • Resumes
  • Benefit Change Request Forms
  • Onboarding documents for policies, TD1 forms, and benefits enrollment
  • Background checks
  • Health and Safety reports
  • Copies of certificates, licenses, and memberships
  • Employee performance related forms

How can using electronic documents help in your organization?

Let’s take a look at a scenario in a typical 300 employee company. Each employee generates an average of 20 new documents per year. And if they are a new hire, that number increases when they are brought on board with the addition of their job application, resume, confidentiality agreement, benefit forms, and electronic signature consent agreement. Conservatively on average, new employees generate an additional 10 forms.

With 300 employees and 25 new hires a year that works out to 6,250 documents. And I haven’t even included termination or leave forms in this yet! Having to generate, maintain and archive this volume of paperwork manually demonstrates how records management provides a major challenge to the productivity of any HR team.

But thanks to technology, electronic documents and signatures are becoming a great business tool – it can be like having a personal assistant.

Some of the benefits of implementing an electronic document management solution are:

  1. Documents can be distributed your whole organization or a specific sub-set quickly and easily through a self-service portal.
  2. Documents get signed faster and they’ll never get lost on someone’s desk before they are returned. Once signed they are stored immediately for future reference.
  3. Documents are secured in a database ensuring privacy is maintained and they are all in the same place, you don’t have some filed in HR and some filed in Payroll or in a Manager’s office.
  4. Documents can be included in workflows so they can be signed by multiple people in a specified order or all at once.
  5. Documents contribute to your green footprint; no more paper, printing, faxing or interoffice mail required.

How do electronic documents and signatures typically work?

Here at Avanti we have made a significant investment in the development of electronic document management and electronic signatures that can be tied into employee profiles, self-service, onboarding, and workflows. We know that for HR, the tasks of getting documents to each employee and then receiving the signed documentation can be lengthy and challenging. Spending time chasing down paperwork and signatures is not a productive use of anyone’s time.

The infographic below explains the process in 4 easy steps.

Electronic Documents and Signatures for HR, Employees, and Managers

“The use of electronic signatures is becoming more common in Human Resources as employers find themselves in situations where hard-copy signatures are not practical,”
- Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM)

Things to Consider

When setting up or implementing electronic documents here are a few things to consider:

  • Decide who needs access to what documents and test your security settings to make sure access is assigned correctly to managers, employees, HR, Payroll and any other stakeholders.
  • Determine which documents provide your biggest wins and start with them. Add other documents over time.
  • You may need more than just a signature, consider adding fields to the signature box, for example allowing the signer to select I agree or I disagree and then their signature, you may even add a comments box for the signer to add any additional comments required to explain for example why they selected “I disagree”.

A Better Way of Doing Things for Your Whole Team

Introducing electronic documents and signatures to your HR solution helps you maintain compliance, get signatures faster and go green – they provide a better way of doing things for your whole team.

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About the Author

Marlo Hertling

Marlo Hertling has worked with leading HCM organizations and has been helping Canadian companies implement HCM solutions for more than 15 years. She is the Vice President of People & Culture at Avanti Software Inc and serves as Avanti's HCM subject matter expert.

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